Niger's Junta Closes Airspace, Bolsters Troops In Capital, Citing Invasion Threat

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by Tyler Durden
Monday, Aug 07, 2023 - 06:25 PM

Niger's coup leaders have closed the country's airspace as an alliance of neighboring West-backed countries prepares a possible military intervention to restore the democratically elected government under President Mohamed Bazoum.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had at an emergency meeting days ago declared that Bazoum must be reinstated by Sunday, or that the junta could face military action.

Niger's capital has been gripped by unrest.

On the same day, the military government announced the airspace closure until further notice due to threat of military invasion from neighboring countries.

"Faced with the threat of intervention which is becoming clearer from neighboring countries, Niger's airspace is closed from this day on Sunday… until further notice," the junta announced. The statement further warned of a "vigorous and instantaneous response" if any outside power violates Niger's airspace.

Niger's military leadership also claimed ECOWAS has initiated "pre-deployment in preparation for the intervention" in two Central African countries, but they weren't named. "Any state involved will be considered co-belligerent," the statement said. For the time being, it appears Niger's junta has called ECOWAS' bluff.

ECOWAS is a huge blog of 15 member states, consisting of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo. ECOWAS is expected to hold summit on the Niger situation this Thursday in Abuja, where a final decision on military intervention could be made.

CNN is reporting Monday that new military reinforcements have been seen pouring into Niger's capital:

Niger’s armed forces have been bringing in reinforcements to the capital to prepare for a potential military intervention, a military source told CNN, just hours after the military junta running the country refused to abide by an influential regional bloc’s deadline to cede power.

A convoy of about 40 pick-up trucks arrived at nightfall on Sunday evening, bringing troops from other parts of the country to both reassure a nervous public and prepare for potential battle.

The Associated Press had reported of its meeting at the end of last week, "in neighboring Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, the region’s defense chiefs finalized a plan to use force against the Niger junta — needing approval by their political leaders — if Mohamed Bazoum is not reinstated as Niger’s president," The Associated Press detailed of the emergency summit.

But importantly, Mali and Burkina Faso, both with military governments, have sided with Niger's junta. They too are warning against any intervention by enemy states.

Niger's coup leaders have meanwhile also called out France, alleging that Bazoum's officials had issued legal permission for French military intervention to restore constitutional government. Any potential intervention by the West African nations would likely happen along Nigeria's some 1,000-mile border with Niger.